Root cause analysis (RCA) is the process of drilling down to find the causes of the problem so corrective and preventive action can be taken. RCA starts at the undesirable effect and works backward to its cause(s) and addresses those causes.  

While the term “root cause” implies a single cause for a problem, often, the RCA will discover multiple causes that triggered the problem. The RCA should identify potential causes to ensure the undesirable effect does not recur. 

Why a Root Cause Investigation Is Important  

There are multiple benefits to a robust RCA process. The main benefit is it allows an employer to discover the underlying or systemic, rather than the generalized or immediate, causes of an incident. Correcting only an immediate cause may eliminate a symptom of a problem, but not the problem itself. 

Understanding the true root cause can resolve and prevent similar issues and:  

  • Enables Faster Product Release: Production slows down when an incident occurs which reduces the organization’s ability to get products to market  
  • Reduces Costs: Nonconformances are costly especially if the product has shipped to the customer  
  • Improves Safety and Reliability: By understanding the true root cause of an occurrence, it allows for changes to occur which can prevent the incident from recurring

Top Challenges to Effective Root Cause Analysis  

Some of the key challenges faced in root cause analysis include:  

  • Poor quality culture: Lead by example; quality must be everyone’s responsibility 
  • Lack of guidance on root cause analysis: Ensure resources are trained in completing root cause analysis, there are multiple courses available 
  • Not using a cross-functional team approach: To understand the full picture and provide outcomes that solve the concern you must use a team of diverse individuals 

A 5-Step Approach to Root Cause Analysis  

A 5-step approach to effective root cause analysis includes:  

  1. Define event 
  2. Find causes 
  3. Find the root cause  
  4. Find solution 
  5. Act and measure  

Download the eBook to get insight into each of these steps and get access to customizable root cause analysis resources like cause and effects analysis, force field analysis and more.  

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